An Italian Catholic priest has been sharing the “joy of Christmas” with Buddhists in Thailand as part of an “inter-religious dialogue” program of the Church in the country.
A report on Radio Veritas Asia cited the work done by Father Daniele Mazza, a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, and a group of Catholics who “shared the joy of Christmas” and brought the image of baby Jesus into the houses of Buddhists.
Father Mazza described the experience as a “moment of pure grace.”
Italian missionaries have been working in the promotion of inter-religious dialogue in Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country.
Speaking about his experience during a retreat as part of his Buddhist studies course, Father Mazza said it was “a difficult but very interesting experience.”
“We had more than 10 hours of formal meditation practice every day, starting at 4 a.m., and we had to stay in tents in the woods,” said the priest.
He said his experiences with the Buddhist “will help me a lot in my work on inter-religious dialogue.”
In September this year, the PIME celebrated its 50th anniversary in Thailand.
Founded in 1850, the Italian institute has sent almost 2,000 missionaries around the world. As of 2022, 13 missionaries are working in Thailand.
PIME missionaries arrived in Thailand after being expelled from Myanmar in 1972.
Father Mazza said the commitment to inter-religious dialogue is “a special vocation.” He said “it is like a new calling.”